the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

#fridayflash: windmills

on September 14, 2012

Tucked in the buggy, the baby finds his thumb and after a few minutes, his eyes close and his fist hangs in the air, as if he’s hitching a ride. A weak sun pierces the clouds then vanishes. The sea is slate-grey and flat but at the shoreline the waves churn offering percussion to the seagulls that squawk and wheel overhead. I walk along the path and my stomach hangs like a shopping bag, disfigured. With each step the stitches pull. Finding a bench, I catch my breath and the baby stirs. I grip the handlebar and jiggle the buggy’s frame, but he’s awake and already screaming. I count the waves as they turn and when I look back, his face is red and mottled like a skinned rabbit and his eyes bulge. I crawl to my feet and start walking again.

A blue-rinse pensioner watches me through the café window. She smiles and acknowledges me as a new mother. Turning the buggy around, I drift away. By the kiosk, the children’s windmills spin. I remember the ones I stuck into sandcastles when my Dad was the best builder on the beach. The plastic heads hum as they twirl, reminding me of being zipped into my sleeping bag and Dad’s bristly goodnight kisses. I hand over the coins and choose a yellow windmill with black stripes. The baby watches as the blades turn, flapping his arms while his ‘o’ shaped lips blow bubbles.

‘Like the windmill, do you? Nicholas.’

This is my first attempt at writing about postnatal depression. What do you think?

14 responses to “#fridayflash: windmills

  1. says:

    Hi Gail,

    As I mentioned before with this computer I can’t ‘comment’ as it doesn’t connect for some reason. Think I have some virus or lord knows. Everything else seems to work except this and skype mircrophone. Anyway just wanted to say love this piece on post natal depression and all your posts.

    Talk soon

    Lots of love Michelle xxxx


  2. I think it captures the desperation perfectly. My only question is how newborn is the baby, because aren’t newborns too small for buggies? Wouldn’t they be in pram strollers or harnesses?

    I’ve written a whole as yet unpublished novel about the trials and tribulations and exasperations of rearing children. It’s a subject that gets passed over in fiction for some reason.

  3. susancarey says:

    A lovely piece of flash with wonderful descriptions. Her stomach hanging like a shopping bag, skinned rabbit, all very emotive images capturing her feelings of helplessness.
    I hadn’t really picked up it was post natal depression, I interpreted it more as the emotional turmoil of a young, probably first-time mother.
    The last sentence of the first paragraph I couldn’t picture. Crawling to her feet implies she was on all fours which is at odds with her sitting on the bench.
    Loved the final image of the windmill which gives the reader a sense of hope.

  4. louisaadjoa says:

    This is a nice piece of writing. I wouldn’t have realised about the pnd though, I assumed she was just knackered like all new mums! Maybe try and delve a bit deeper into the depression – what does it feel like? What horrible thoughts does she have? Also I want to know more…is it possible to extend this piece?

  5. kris hallett says:

    I really enjoyed this, the way you captured memories of childhood – will you add to this or leave as is…? Your descriptions were spot on 🙂

  6. Ruth Blaug says:

    Yes. I did think the misery that was very well expressed, but my impression was that it was largely due to the pain of a C section? The whole scene is powerfully joyless, even the remembered happy days on the beach are faint and grey. The weary, dragging pointless day reminds me of low points in my life, though I did not have children hence not that particularly debilitating variety of depression. It ruined the life of my vulnerable sister-in-law and seriously damaged her son…
    ATVB, Ruth

  7. mgideon says:

    Such a sad piece, very well written. You’ve described such a joyless moment with beautiful language. Nice work.

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